Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy #5)
By Ilona Andrews
Originally Published August 25th, 2020
Single POV, First Person
Emerald Blaze was one of those books that I had been waiting and agonizing over for months, so much so that when I accidentally received it days before its actual release, I canceled everything and read it immediately. After I devoured it, it took me a long time to come to terms with how I felt. And by a long time, I mean months. I'm writing this in the new year, finally able to put words down about all the tumultuous feelings I have for this book.
In Emerald Blaze, Catalina is tougher, harder, and fully accepting of her new secret role as Texas's Deputy Warden. Forced to not only keep the job a secret from her family, but also her deals she made with her evil grandmother. But, the secrets are starting to catch up with her.
Months after Alessandro Sagredo left, taking Catalina's heart with him, he's returned just as she takes a new case, and puts himself in the middle of the investigation. With no choice but to let him tag along, Catalina decides to use him to her advantage and they start their hunt for a killer, and, worse, a monster living in the swamp at the center of a magical pit in Houston. A killer who wants to silence them, and a monster who takes an obsessive liking to Catalina.
Emerald Blaze has secured the spot of "favorite Hidden Legacy villain". The force Catalina and Alessandro go up against is equally horrifying as it is grimly beautiful. The plot of EB vaguely reminded me of Bayou Moon from Andrews' On The Edge series, which is a tremendously good thing considering Bayou Moon is my all-time favorite Andrews book.
The heartache of Sapphire Flames remains, only, like Catalina and Alessandro, it's a different kind of ache. These are not the same characters we met in the past books. Catalina is a force, a woman who has been hurt and has hardened and thrown herself into becoming a Prime to be reckoned with. Alessandro is no longer the cocky, flirty assassin. I've said before that one of my favorite things with Ilona Andrews is their ability to write their stories with actual time lapses. It's been months since the events of Sapphire Flames and the time has allowed these two lovesick Primes to change and grow. At first, I was skeptical, concerned that I was no longer reading the characters I fell in love with. Worried that Andrews had changed so much of the development in order to appease complaining fans. There were complaints about Sapphire Flames, that Catalina was too young and infatuated, that Alessandro was toxic. I agreed and disagreed. I knew what was happening, I knew Andrews had planned a development that would be realistic and worth the struggle over a period of three books. In Emerald Blaze, we got this growth, but there were some things that felt info-dumpy, felt forced, as if to placate complainers of SF. This caused my first read to be a confusing mess of feelings. I wish some of the revelations and reveals in this book had been saved for the next book.
After finally bringing myself to reread Emerald Blaze, I've accepted all the feelings I have about it and come to one conclusion: I do love it and I have the utmost faith in Ilona Andrews to wrap up Catalina's trilogy in the next book with the spectacular writing I expect from them.